Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson recently caught up with some elite, Level 10, and NCAA gymnasts to discuss their training, future goals, and more.
Vanasia Bradley, Meghan Cash, Leah Clapper, Riley Danielson, Anna Huber, Larisa Iordache, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Sydney McGlone, Kristen Nicolosi, Cinny Lamberti, McKenna Singley, Faith Torrez, Elizabet Vasileva, Nicole Wild, and Haylee Young provided us with thoughtful insights into their training.
VANASIA BRADLEY: “FOCUSING ON GETTING HEALTHY”
Vanasia Bradley is a U.S. senior elite artistic gymnast from Euro Stars Gymnastics in Plymouth, Michigan. At the 2013 P&G Championships, she tied for eleventh in the junior all-around. She injured her knee in July 2014 and has not competed since. “[My training has] been going well,” Vanasia told Full Twist. “We have been focusing on getting healthy, getting in shape, and learning new bar skills/combinations to put together a competitive bar routine.”
On the subject of her gymnastics goals, Vanasia told us, “[My first goal] is to get healthy and to get in top physical condition. Then after that I want to be invited back to the national team camps and then go from there.”
Vanasia is hoping to debut some new skills this year. She mentioned that she’d like to introduce “lots of new bars skills and definitely new skills on the other events.” She added, “We are not quite sure what they will be but we have quite a few ideas. It just depends on the knee and what skills will be the most logical. Of course we want to stay healthy so it’s really important that we choose smart routines to stay safe but still be competitive.”
The powerful vaulter and tumbler said that she’s not sure when her next competition will be. “We are kind of just taking it one day at a time,” she noted.
When asked what she’d like to tell the Full Twist readers, Vanasia replied, “I’m still here, lol. My goals have not changed and the only thing that has changed is the path that I’m taking to get to where I want to be.”
MEGHAN CASH: “REMEMBER TO ENJOY THE SPORT”
Meghan Cash is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Aerial East Gymnastics in Mechanicsville, Virginia. At the 2014 Level 9 Eastern Championships, she won the Senior 6 all-around title. “Training has been going really well!” Meghan told Full Twist. “I started at a new gym, Aerial East Gymnastics, after Eastern Nationals last year. I have had the opportunity to try many new skills here. My coaches, Pete Pidcoe, Nancy Love, Eddie Green, and Cy Witherow, have been really supportive and helpful in expanding my skill set. I started gymnastics later than most, so I have a lot of catching up to do, but I’m making great strides now thanks to my coaches and teammates.”
Meghan explained her gymnastics goals to us. “Short-term: I hope to qualify to Regionals,” she noted. “I’m working on improving my all-around score in hopes of qualifying to NIT or [J.O.] Nationals. Long-term: I would like to compete in college. I graduate high school this spring.”
Having recently competed at the Frederick Gymnastics Classic in February, Meghan is now planning to travel to North Carolina on March 14th for March Madness at Salem Gymnastics. It will be her last meet before the State Championships.
When asked if she might try elite gymnastics, Meghan told us, “Since I graduate this year, I am not considering elite gymnastics, but rather focusing on securing a spot on a collegiate team, if possible.”
Meghan offered some advice to the Full Twist readers: “I would encourage them to remember to enjoy the sport and to surround themselves with people who inspire and encourage them. For this, I would like to give my coaches and teammates at Aerial East a big thank you! It is an incredible place to train. I am lucky to be a part of the team there!”
LEAH CLAPPER: “I HAVE BEEN TRAINING FOR ELITE”
Leah Clapper is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Gym America in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At the 2014 J.O. NIT, she placed 12th in the all-around. “My training has been going really well,” Leah told Full Twist. “I have been working very hard on perfecting and upgrading my routines. I competed a full-in on floor for the first time a few weeks ago, so that was really exciting. Right now, I am working towards a lot of new skills on bars and twisting my vaults.”
Leah shared her gymnastics goals with us: “My goals for this year include qualifying to J.O. Nationals, as well as qualifying and competing as a junior elite. Additionally, I would like to attain a scholarship to a Division I school.”
At the recent Buckeye Classic in Ohio, Leah competed in the elite qualifying sessions. “I have been training for elite,” she told us. “I competed at my first qualifier, but didn’t quite make it. Now I know what things I need to work on, and I plan to try again soon!”
When asked what she’d like to tell the Full Twist readers, Leah replied, “Thank you! Gymnasts, good luck this season, stay positive, have fun, and remember you can do things that very few people in the world can do! Also, as my coach says, ‘When all else fails, try harder.’ ”
RILEY DANIELSON: “THEY BELIEVE IN ME”
Riley Danielson is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Legacy Gymnastics in Minnesota. At the 2014 Level 9 Western Championships, she placed 14th in the all-around. She is coached by Kari and Will Vaughn, along with Heidi Mastro and Travis Cherrier. “[Riley’s training has been going] great,” Riley’s coaches told Full Twist. “Riley loves being in the gym. This is her first year of Level 10 and she’s getting more confident and being more consistent with her routines. Riley practices 24 hours per week.”
Riley recently competed at the 2015 City of Lights Invitational, where she finished fifth in the all-around. “[She] competes a Kasamatsu tuck full,” Riley’s dad Steve told us. “Her coaches say even though she may be small, she has a mighty vault. Riley is very dynamic on vault. [On] bars, her coaches say Riley has a strong tap that will lead her to many big skills. Riley recently added a front aerial to her beam routine, [and she] loves to perform [on floor] with smiles and spunk.”
“The Legacy coaches have been training me from the start and they believe in me,” Riley told Full Twist. “My teammates are fun and work hard, [and] we all have similar goals.”
On the subject of her gymnastics goals, Steven noted, “Riley works very hard to improve her skills, however, she also feels it’s just as important to be a role model at the gym and be a supportive teammate. She wants everyone to improve. Riley qualified for the Level 10 Minnesota State Meet in her first meet. At the state meet, her goal is to qualify for the Region 4 Meet in Green Bay, Wisconsin. There, she hopes to qualify for the J.O. Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa. Riley is working hard to complete these goals and wants to continue gymnastics at the Division I level in college.” He added, “Riley has always wanted to train elite. She needs to continue her current path and see where it takes her.”
When asked if there was anything she’d like to tell the Full Twist readers, Riley responded, “I’ve always enjoyed reading articles from my favorite gymnasts and I’m happy to be chosen to do one myself.”
ANNA HUBER: “HAPPY TO SEE ALL MY HARD WORK PAY OFF”
Anna Huber is a U.S. junior elite artistic gymnast from Rochester Gymnastics Academy in Rochester, NY. At the 2015 Buckeye Classic, she qualified to the elite level. “[Training] has been going really well!” Anna told Full Twist. “I have been working really hard over the last several months. Last year was tough because of an injury, and I finally had to take several months off right after I passed my elite compulsories and competed in my Level 10 state meet in March. So I missed Level 10 Regionals and my elite optional testing, and that was very frustrating. I conditioned as much as I could during my time off, and I was finally back to full training by October. I had a lot of catching up to do, but my hard work paid off! I have added many new skills this year. I have competed my double-twisting yurchenko. On bars I have added my Tkatchev and inside stalder and a few other skills. On floor, I have added a few new tumbling passes, including a double Arabian. On beam, I have added an Onodi, a new flight series, and a double pike dismount. So I have had a lot to work on! At the January Developmental camp, I placed second in Verifications! Then in February, I qualified elite at the Buckeye meet. I was so happy to see all my hard work pay off!”
On the subject of her short-term and long-term gymnastics goals, Anna told us, “My short-term goals are to finish out my second year of Level 10 and make Regionals and Nationals. But I am mainly focusing on trying to become more consistent in my new skills as I prepare for the Secret U.S. Championships, where I hope to do well and qualify for the P&G Championships. Long-term, my goal would be to make the junior national team.”
Anna has already competed many new skills this year, but she told us that she’s working on a few other new skills as well. “[I’m working on a] double layout on floor, [a] Maloney on bars, and some dance skills on beam,” she explained.
The 12-year-old added, “One of my favorite phrases is ‘There is no progress without struggles.’ Gymnastics is a tough sport, but I love it. And this phrase keeps me going on my tough days!”
LARISA IORDACHE: “WE MUST PREPARE FOR COMPETITIONS”
Larisa Iordache is one of the top elite artistic gymnasts in Romania. At the 2012 Olympic Games, she won a bronze medal with her team and followed up that result with a bronze on floor at the 2013 World Championships. At 2014 Worlds, she won silver medals in the all-around and on floor exercise. “[My] training [is] going okay,” Larisa told Full Twist. “Until now [I] was relaxing, but we must prepare for competitions to come! [They] are very important.”
The artistic 18-year-old told us that she’s not sure when her next competition will be, and she doesn’t know if she will get a new floor routine this year. “If [I] get something new, I’ll show [it in the competition] and hope to be okay!” she explained.
When asked about her new skills for 2015 and if she might ever compete the Amanar, Larisa told us, “[It] would be great for me to compete with [an] Amanar! But this year I hope to make my integrals flawless and without penalty, and in the future I hope to grow and [improve my vaulting to be stronger] for individual [competition].”
Larisa wanted to share her thanks to the Full Twist readers: “I thank them for the support offered [for] each competition! I hope that 2015 can offer more joy to those who support me! Thank you!”
SYDNEY JOHNSON-SCHARPF: “I AM VERY EXCITED FOR THIS SEASON”
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf is a U.S. junior elite artistic gymnast from Brandy Johnson’s Global Gymnastics in Florida. At the 2014 P&G Championships, she placed 25th in the junior all-around. “My training has been going very well,” Sydney told Full Twist. “I am very excited for this season, so that I can show everyone how hard I have been working!”
Sydney, whose next competition will be the American Classic in May, has been working on upgrading all of her events. “I have new combos on bars and beam, and I have a brand-new floor routine that I am so excited to show everyone,” she explained.
When asked about her goals in gymnastics, Sydney responded, “My short-term goal is to make national team and to get an international assignment. My long term goal is to make a World or Olympic team.”
Sydney added, “I just want everyone to know how grateful I am for all of the support that I receive. It is very important to me, so I want to say thank you to all of you!!”
SYDNEY MCGLONE: “TO GET HEALTHY AND STAY IN GREAT SHAPE”
Sydney McGlone is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Universal Gymnasts, Inc., in Ohio. At the 2013 J.O. Nationals, she placed 11th in the all-around and fourth on vault. “I am currently injured with tears on both side of my ankle and a bone bruise,” Sydney told Full Twist. “I am doing very light training such as low bar/bar drills and conditioning.”
Sydney described her short-term and long-term goals. “Short term: I really just want to get healthy and stay in great shape, especially going into my freshman year at Arkansas,” she explained. “Long term: I would love to win an NCAA title (both as an individual and as a team). Lookout for the Razorbacks in the next couple years!!” She doesn’t think she’ll try elite. As she put it, “I just want to compete [in] college and keep my body healthy.”
Last November, Sydney signed her National Letter of Intent to compete for the University of Arkansas. It’s still up in the air as to whether or not she’ll compete as a Level 10 by the end of the season, and she said that “if not, my first meet will be as an Arkansas gymnast.”
KRISTEN NICOLOSI: “IT IS ALL WORTH IT IN THE END”
Kristen Nicolosi is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from KMC Gymnastics in Pennsylvania. At the 2014 Level 9 Regionals, she placed eighth on vault; she also placed eleventh in the all-around at the 2013 Level 9 Regionals. “My training has been going well,” Kristen told Full Twist. “I missed most of this season due to a foot injury, but I am starting to build up my strength again and have started doing bars.”
Kristen commented that her short-term goal is to qualify for J.O. Nationals next season, as she is skipping the 2015 season due to her injury. “My long-term goal is college gymnastics,” she remarked. “I don’t think elite gymnastics is the path for me; I am just excited for where this sport takes me and for college gymnastics!”
The 16-year-old added, “I want to tell Full Twist readers to never give up or be discouraged because there [were] definitely a few times throughout my career when I was really frustrated and full of doubt, but I promise it is all worth it in the end if you stick with it!”
CINNY LAMBERTI: “ELITE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A GOAL OF MINE”
Cinny Lamberti is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Gymnastics Factory in Illinois. She was the 2014 Level 10 State Champion on vault. “My training has been going really well,” Cinny told Full Twist. “I train Monday to Thursday [from] 5-8:30 and Saturday from 8:45-12:15. Some weeks I’ll go into the gym on Sunday for two hours to train on skills I need. I spend the most time on bars because it’s my weakest event right now. Vault is my best event and one of my strongest. I train a yurchenko full and double. Floor is also one of my strongest events as well. Beam isn’t weak at all, I just need a little more work on my series. I’ve also been learning new skills as well. On floor I learned a back 2 ½ into a punch front and hope to compete it at my next meet. I’ve also learned a full-in and hope to compete it at the meet after my next. [On] bars I am learning a Higen into a Geinger.”
Cinny has several gymnastics goals for the future. “My short-term goal is to qualify for nationals this year and do well at nationals,” she told us. “My long-term goal is to become a good collegiate gymnast and hopefully start training elite.”
16-year-old Cinny explained that becoming an elite gymnast has always been one of her goals. “I’ve talked to my coach about becoming an elite and I might try it! Right now I have two events that are ready for elite, which [are] floor and vault. Beam and bars still need some work but once I get the skills I’ll be ready!”
Cinny added, “Something I would like to tell the Full Twist readers is that I love gymnastics! It’s my stress reliever and I look forward to it every day! I couldn’t imagine my life without this sport or my teammates. My absolute favorite thing is when our Level 2 [gymnasts] come up to me and say they want to be a gymnast like me one day. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I have received as well as the memories I have made! I wouldn’t trade gymnastics for anything else in the world!”
MCKENNA SINGLEY: “I LOVE BEING AT PRACTICE”
McKenna Singley is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Olympus Gymnastics in Sandy, Utah. At the 2013 J.O. National Championships, she won the uneven bars title. “[My training has] been going great!” McKenna told Full Twist. “I had lost my love for the sport but this year I was able to find it again and training hasn’t been this good for a long time. I love being at practice and working on the small, important details on every skill.”
The 18-year-old is committed to Oregon State University starting this fall. “This season, my goal is to go to Nationals and most importantly have fun!” she told us. “Long-term I would like to compete as an all-arounder at Oregon State and become an All American.”
McKenna, who has been a Level 10 gymnast since 2011, mentioned her new skills for 2015. “On floor, my first pass is new, [a] punch front step-out round-off back handspring double tuck,” she explained. “Other than that I have mostly added connections and [I’ve] worked on making each skill perfect.”
When asked what she’d like to tell Full Twist readers, McKenna replied, “Don’t give up!! I almost quit gymnastics a couple times and today I am so happy I pushed through. I had a very serious concussion/seizure a year ago and it took a lot of time and patience but I knew I wanted to come back stronger than ever. So I conditioned as much as I allowed and kept pushing day by day and I am very happy I pushed through that because I was able to find my love for the sport again. Gymnastics is not easy but it will all be worth it when you look back and are able to say ‘I made it!’ Keep fighting!!”
FAITH TORREZ: “TRY HARD AND DO YOUR BEST”
Faith Torrez is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Scamps Gymnastics in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At the 2014 Level 9 Western Championships, she placed fourth on balance beam and eleventh in the all-around. “[My training has been] very good!” Faith told Full Twist. “I am in the middle of my competition season right now so I have been trying to work extra hard. I can’t wait to see how I do this year in my first Level 10 season.”
Faith told us about her gymnastics goals. “One of my short-term goals is to make it to Level 10 J.O. Nationals this season,” she said. “One of my long-term goals is to train for elite. I can’t wait to start training my new skills again. In the gym right now, I am concentrating on hitting my routines for competition.” She added, “I would really hope to compete as an elite. My plan is [that] after I finish my first season of Level 10, I want to do one more year of Level 10. After that, I want to do elite.”
The 11-year-old shared some of her best advice. “I would like to tell readers that if you do gymnastics or any other sport, try hard and do your best,” Faith said. “You will do great if you put 100% into your work.”
ELIZABET VASILEVA: “MANY TWISTS AND TURNS IN MY CAREER”
Elizabet Vasileva is a junior elite artistic gymnast from Bulgaria. At the 2014 European Championships, she placed 50th in the junior all-around qualifications; more recently, she competed at the 2015 Nadia Comaneci Invitational in February. “I am really happy that I had a chance to be in [the] USA for [the] second time,” Elizabet told Full Twist. “Last year I was in Los Angeles with my coach Filip Yanev [at] the competition ‘International Gymnastics Legends’. This year I was invited by Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner to compete for the competition ‘Nadia Comaneci International Invitational.’ I was greeted very nicely from these legends. When Nadia told me some advice I was infinitely happy. Also I was warmly welcome and made [to] feel special by Paul Ziert and Christian Ivanov. It was awesome to be there. I met different gymnasts from Australia, Romania, Canada, America and so [on].”
A former rhythmic gymnast, Elizabet brings beautiful artistry to artistic gymnastics. “There [have been] many twists and turns in my career,” she noted. “When I was small I want to be a champion in rhythmic gymnastics. I stopped [in] 2012 and [now] I focus only on artistic gymnastics. I understood that it is my sport and I know what I want—to be a CHAMPION. My dream is one day…to make interesting and different compositions on floor and beam. I am really excited when I [get to compete] floor. Like everyone else in gymnastics I want to go on European Championships, World Championships, and Olympics Games. Stubbornly I follow my dreams.”
Elizabet told us that her next competition will be a national competition, Cup Bulgaria, which will be held in March. “Also I will [compete in an] accompanying tournament, World Cup [in] Varna,Bulgaria. I will take a part [in the] 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival.”
The 15-year-old said that she is studying new elements on every apparatus. “I have to [prepare] my programs very fast because, for example, the uneven bars and bault are new apparatus for me,” said Elizabet.
When asked if there was anything she’d like to tell the readers, Elizabet responded, “I want to say thanks to all of my fans who give me strength to work hard. I read many wonderful comments under the [YouTube] clips of [my] beam and floor [routines which] were public on International Gymnast Magazine’s Facebook. I was really surprised from the amazing comments [and there were] a lot of likes and many [views]. Dear people, thanks for everything. I shall play different gymnastics.”
NICOLE WILD: “THE BEST OF MY ABILITY”
Nicole Wild is a former U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast who now competes in NCAA gymnastics at North Carolina State University. She competed at the J.O. National Championships twice, in 2013 and 2014. “My training has been going great!” Nicole told Full Twist. “I love being part of the Wolfpack Gymnastics team.”
While Nicole explained that she hasn’t been practicing too many new skills, she said that she “hopes to work on some [new skills] during the off-season and compete them next season.”
Nicole is in her freshman year at NCSU, and she told us that her main goal for this season is to contribute to the team as much as possible. “I want to perform to the best of my ability to help the team win,” she remarked. “We are such a talented group of girls and work really hard to do our best.”
HAYLEE YOUNG: “IT WILL BE AN EXCITING JOURNEY”
Haylee Young is a former J.O. Nationals competitor who now competes for Iowa State in NCAA gymnastics. “Training has been going very well,” Haylee told Full Twist. “Of course there will always be bumps in the road, but that is how you learn. I have matured so much as a gymnast since being at Iowa State. My coaches and teammates are so committed to each other, and it is very exciting to know how much potential our team has.”
A freshman in college, Haylee explained her goals for this season: “My goals are to keep improving every single meet, and of course make the national championships with my team. I would also like to be an All-American.”
Haylee formerly competed for several top gyms in her club career, including Chow’s Gymnastics and Triad. She noted that she does not have any plans or goals to try elite gymnastics.
She added, “I would like to tell the Full Twist readers to keep an eye on Iowa State gymnastics, we have big plans and goals for this season and it will be an exciting journey to be a part of.”
Special thanks to all the gymnasts for chatting with us! Stay tuned for Part 17, which will include updates with Katelyn Ohashi, Sarah Finnegan, and others!
Image via USA Gymnastics